Posted by nick_niesen on November 1st, 2010

To the uninitiated RSS is the buzzword but what is it?
RSS is a family of web feed formats, specified in XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) and used for Web syndication. RSS is used by (among other things) news websites, weblogs and podcasting.
· Really Simple Syndication

Web feeds provide web content or summaries of web content together with links to the full versions of the content, and other metadata. (Literally data that describes other data)

RSS, in particular, delivers this information as an XML file called an RSS feed, webfeed, RSS stream, or RSS channel. In addition to facilitating syndication, web feeds allow a website's frequent readers to track updates on the site using an aggregator. (A type of software that retrieves syndicated Web content )
It can be a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites, and personal weblogs.

But it's not just for news. Pretty much anything that can be broken down into small items and can be syndicated via RSS, anything that has any kind of content makes an interesting RSS feed. Once information about each item is in RSS format, an RSS-aware program can check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.

RSS-aware programs, called news aggregators are popular in the weblogging community. Many weblogs make content available in RSS. A news aggregator can help you keep up with all your favourite weblogs by checking their RSS feeds

How can I receive RSS feeds?

There are several ways of receiving RSS feeds, but the technology is moving forwards and adapting very quickly. The main method is to download a program called a 'News Reader'. You can then set up this program to receive RSS information from whatever websites you wish that offer it, and browse headlines and story summaries that link through to the full story on the website.
There are several News Reader programs available for all platforms, many of which are free. See a list on google.

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Alternatively, some newer web browsers offer similar functionality already built-in which will detect whether the website you are viewing offers an RSS feed and will then let you create a constantly-updated list of links in your 'bookmarks' menu.

The Firefox browser (Windows, Mac OSX, Linux) will let you do this, and will alert you to an RSS-enabled page by displaying an icon in the bottom-right corner of the window . Apple's Safari browser (Mac OSX only) offers an even fuller service, and other browsers will probably follow.

There are also some websites that let you customise a list of RSS feeds too.
On this link to the site you can instantly download a ready built RSS feed with the click of a button. This offers you a supply of RSS feeds with different outputs, the selection is vast and growing daily.

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